In 2016 were grateful for…: Sony Music mopping up Africa’s premiere talents
In honor of the end of 2016, we are writing stories about artists, songs, albums or moments from the year that we’re most grateful for.
The year is 2016, and Sony Music is beasting through Africa on a mission to mop up the best talents.
The music company has grown in leaps and bounds in terms of awareness this year after handing out deals to some of the best and most promising talents on the continent.
First they started off with Davido as a major flagship signing, and everyone sat up and took notice.
Davido was signed in January 2016 to a string of press releases and hype. The statement from the music body revealed that the deal represented a step forward for Sony Music Entertainment as it grows its roots in Africa.
The deal announced Sony’s official presence in Lagos, Nigeria, and verified Sony Music Entertainment’s decision to pursue new business via the introduction of on-the-ground operating entities in an expanded number of markets in the region. According to the company, the timing of the decision is based on the convergence of a number of positive indicators in Africa’s economy and positive signs in the music industry. Davido wass a shining example of this.
Sean Watson, Managing Director, Sony Music Entertainment Africa stated, "Working with incredible talent like Davido heralds a new era for Sony Music Entertainment Africa on the continent. We couldn’t be prouder of our partnership with Davido and we are extremely keen to support his vision to succeed at the highest level in our industry."
All of this was just the first shot at domination. Sony Music has since stepped into various countries, snapping up talents.
In May 2016, Sony Music Entertainment announced their 2nd major artist signing in Africa with East African act Alikiba. Several major pan-African media outlets attended to capture the announcement, including major Pan-African Broadcasters MTV, SoundCity, Trace TV, Channel O, EATV, and Clouds.
Alikiba is a superstar across East Africa and vast parts of the African continent, and is widely known as ‘The King of Bongo Flava.” His hashtag, #KingKiba, is a weekly trend across various African countries, and has been for the past few years.
The singer flew in from Tanzania to South Africa and was followed by a dedicated film crew who documented his story as frenzied fans and reporters captured the moment. Alikiba talked to a very exclusive intimate audience through his beginnings, his life, his inspirations as an artist, his successes, and introduced a video about the “making of and behind-the-scenes” of his new single and music video, building up to a personal listening session of his latest single “AJE.”
“Sony Music Entertainment recently announced several key strategic steps that we’d taken in Africa including new operations in Nigeria and the signing of high profile West African artists. We also mentioned that we’d be making similar inroads in East Africa. Well here we are, at the dawn of our East African journey and who better to start it with than an artist of the stature of Alikiba. We’re very proud of being able to partner with such a talented individual and can’t wait to get started on sharing his music with his fans all over the world.” Said Sean Watson.
Alikiba’s first single under Sony Music, “AJE”, was be released in the same month.
With Alikiba already sealed, unofficial reports later confirmed that Sony Music also offered an international deal to Nigeria’s Wizkid. The star has been working hard at penetrating the international scene and pushing to break the glass ceiling that has restricted the flow of African music into world markets.
The deal was first revealed on September 13, 2016, with multiple sources alleging that Wizkid had signed a deal with Sony Music Entertainment and RCA Records. Further confirmation came through back channels to the media, with everyone and anyone who has access to any end of the contract speaking anonymously. The end story? Wizkid and Sony Music are in bed together.
But nobody official is saying anything. No one. Sony Music are keeping a tight lid on it, but they are officially not denying it. Wizkid on his part is playing the coy, cryptic game. Till date, no official announcement was made.
Ycee was next up. On Friday, October 21, 2016, Sony announced an exclusive deal with Ycee of Tinny Entertainment in South Africa. The unprecedented deal will see the rapper’s first E.P,’ The First Wave’ released under the Sony umbrella.
Oludemilade Martin Alejo, popularly known by his stage name Ycee, is a Nigerian rapper and songwriter. He rose to limelight after one of his singles titled "Condo", which features vocals from Patoranking, earned him two nominations at the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.
Michael Ugwu, General Manager, Sony Music West Africa stated “I’m extremely proud to welcome Tinny Entertainment and the amazing talent that is Ycee to the Sony Music Entertainment West Africa family. I’ve watched this team grow over the past few years and I am amazed at how they have navigated the industry to reach this stage. Ycee is the future of Hip Hop in Africa and will be front and centre of SME West Africa’s strategy as we take Africa to the World.”
Right now, Sony Music’s new acquisition is Tekno Miles. The Pana’ crooner shared a video clip via his Instagram page on Tuesday, November 22, showing him signing documents which puts him on the Sony roster of Nigerian artists.
Earlier this month, a short video posted on Instagram by Paul Okoye of Upfront and Personal promotions company, captured a floor of the Sony Music office hinting that a deal was in the offing. The new video is a stronger confirmation that a deal has been reached.
There has been no official confirmation of the business move, but inside sources tell Pulse that the singer will have to travel down to the New York offices of Sony Music to get the final papers signed and sealed. At the time of this report, emails sent to Michael Ugwu have received no response. But Ubi Franklin, the CEO of Tekno’s record label, accepted congratulations from Pulse.
Sony Music saw a business opportunity, and they aggressively attacked the market, and landed a very good crop of stars. Their business dealings in 2016 threw more light on our continent, and became the conduit for exporting our stars outside.